“I ended up writing in my journal that I’m going to invent a product and sell it to millions of people . . . and then I asked the universe for an idea and I was very specific,” explains Sara Blakely, the founder of the shapewear empire SPANX. In the late 1990s, her request for a billion-dollar idea was answered after cutting the feet off of her pantyhose. Despite many people telling her how bad her idea was, Blakely kept manifesting and visualizing, imagining herself selling SPANX on The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2006, her manifestation came true, jumpstarting her career and leading her to be named the youngest self-made female billionaire in 2012.
Other notable business leaders and entrepreneurs share similar stories of success. Their tales of victory against all odds are inspiring, but also puzzling. How did they become so successful with so little to start with? Does the power of positive thinking and manifestation work? What’s the science behind it?
In this article, discover how to manifest something by aligning the real power of distinct focus and positive thought with action. We’ll explore:
- Where the concept of manifestation originated
- How manifestation works
- 5 steps to follow to manifest something
- Examples of success through manifestation
Where Did Manifestation Come From?
All that we are is a result of what we have thought.buddha
Though popularized in recent years, the concept of manifestation has been around for thousands. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and the New Thought Movement of the early 19th century all integrate positive thinking and manifestation concepts.
20th Century BCE (About 4,000 Years Ago)
References to the law of attraction appear in ancient Hindu scriptures. Hinduism used concepts of manifestation, chakras, yoga, and the third eye as spiritual practices, which have become popularized in Western culture.
The Sanskrit symbol for OM is used in yogic traditions to connect the physical and spiritual selves. It was believed by ancient yogis that OM chants used the power of voice and speech to raise your vibration and energy to manifest positivity into your life. OM chanting is commonplace in modern yoga studios today.
Mid-to-Late 19th Century
Religious skepticism began to pave the way for the New Thought Movement. Phineas Quimby lived until 1866 and was one of the earliest advocates of this new thinking. He practiced hypnotism and believed physical illness resulted from thoughts. In 1888, author Helena Blavatsky published The Secret Doctrine. These teachings further proliferated traction behind the New Thought Movement in the 20th century.
Early 20th Century
In 1904, English author Thomas Troward published “The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science,” and in 1914, he became president of the International New Thought Alliance. In 1906, author William Walker Atkinson introduced the concept of The Law of Attraction. Drawing on Hindi philosophy, his goal was to educate others on the power of manifestation and heightened vibrations.
American theosophist David Spangler believed that the energy from certain astrological changes could be harnessed to manifest a new era. This belief eventually became a movement—called the New Age movement—starting in 1970 when Spangler’s published ideas began drawing a massive following. The New Age movement paved the way for other thought leaders, like Ram Dass, to emerge, creating a community aimed at teaching manifestation, heightened spiritual consciousness, and enlightenment.
In 2006, author Rhonda Byrne published the New York Times bestselling book The Secret, eliciting worldwide attention. The book was grounded in concepts of positive thinking, manifestation, and the law of attraction. Oprah Winfrey, an instant proponent of the book, promoted it on a 2006 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. The following year, in an interview with Larry King, Winfrey expressed: “I was really very excited about it because basically the message of The Secret is the message that I’ve been trying to share with the world on my show for the past 21 years.”
How Does Manifestation Work?
All persons ought to practice their visualizing power. This will react upon perception and make it more definite. Visualizing will also form a brain habit of remembering things pictorially, and hence more exactly.william walker atkinson
Combining the power of thought with action to transform an abstract goal or desire into tangible reality is the idea behind manifestation. The goal could be to find love, obtain success, generate wealth, start a business, or build a garden. Whatever the goal, manifestation works by using visualization to activate your mind and subsequent actions, leading to desired outcomes.
According to Scientific American, our motor cortex activates when we think about what we want to do. This is the part of our brain responsible for generating signals for movement to the body. When the motor cortex becomes engaged, we begin to process how best to coordinate our next steps and actions.
When we form a picture in our mind of what we want to achieve before we’ve achieved it, it creates cognitive dissonance. This cognitive dissonance—that is, the discrepancy that now exists between what we believe and our behaviors—propels action. Once we have a vision, we want to satisfy the uncomfortable dissonance and take those steps to satisfy it. Like a craving, we want to fully realize what we’ve envisioned, so we take action and make decisions in this effort. This is how manifestation works.
How to Manifest Something in 5 Steps
The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards.helena blavatsky
1. Set SMART Intentions
Learning how to manifest something starts with getting clear—crystal clear—on your goals and intentions. What is it exactly that you want? In what specific ways do you want your life to change or improve? One way to achieve clarity is by using the SMART goals tool to identify the details.
- Specific: What do you want to accomplish? What are the actions to take to achieve it?
- Measurable: How will success be measured? Will it be based on a timeline? A number? Something you’ve obtained?
- Achievable: Do you have the time, skills, and resources to achieve your goal? Are there adjustments that will be needed to make it more achievable?
- Relevant: Does this goal align with other goals? Does it fit and make sense?
- Timely: What is the desired time frame for accomplishing the goal? What smaller milestones will track progress?
2. Proclaim What You Want to Manifest
Once you’re clear on your goal(s), put them out there. Own them, proclaim them, and ask the universe to fulfill them while believing they will be. Engage your motor cortex by connecting with your higher vibrational energy through visualization and repetition. There are several methods for speaking your desires out into the ether.
Ways to practice daily manifestation:
- Visualization: If you don’t see what you want daily, you’re apt to forget it and veer off-track. Vision boards and visualization exercises can be a great way to imprint into your mind what you want and the steps to achieve it. A study by TD Bank revealed that 73% of those who use vision boards are more likely to know how to be confident in manifesting their goals.
- Journaling: Research shows that writing down our thoughts and feelings helps to trigger our physical responses. This happens because writing offloads stress and engages emotional processing. As a result, performance and decision-making improve.
- Prayer or Meditation: When we pray or meditate, we’re practicing what Stanford psychologist Dr. Carol S. Dweck calls a “growth mindset.” A fixed mindset, its opposite, is the belief that your physical, emotional, and mental qualities can’t be changed. Those with a fixed mindset are often stuck and don’t seek pathways for improvement. On the other hand, a growth mindset is a belief that these attributes can be changed. Through prayer or meditation, we tap into our potential, dreams, and deepest beliefs about ourselves and what we’re capable of.
- The “3-6-9 Law of Attraction Method”: Introduced from eastern yogi traditions by Nikola Tesla, this method (which has gained popularity among TikTok users) relies on repetition to manifest desires. Simply say three clear affirmations of what you want to manifest (i.e., “I am becoming healthier each day,” or “I will start my business this year”) six times per day. After each time, take nine seconds to visualize what each affirmation looks like. Repeat this for 21 days.
3. Apply Action
What small steps can you begin taking each day to work towards your goals? How can the principles behind knowing how to manifest something integrate into your routine? It’s not enough to merely think and want something. You have to apply action to it and believe that it will happen.
If you want a leadership position, for example, apply the methods above to set the intentions and proclaim them, and then start networking with leaders. Make connections, establish new contacts, and express your intentions—these actions will give momentum to your manifestation.
4. Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude
A study at Berkeley made an interesting discovery regarding the concept of gratitude. Among the 300 people who participated, the study found higher levels of improved mental health and outcomes amongst those who wrote gratitude letters versus those who didn’t.
Learning how to manifest something also means practicing gratitude for the good things—big and small—that start to happen. As you practice your visualization, affirmations, and continue taking action, stay alert and mindful about what begins to take shape. When things fall into place, practice gratitude; it will keep your energy high and your confidence strong to manifest new things.
5. Combat Negative Self-Talk
If the concept that positive thinking breeds positive outcomes, then the opposite is also true. Some psychologists believe that out of all of the thoughts we have in a day, 80% of them are negative, and 95% are the same as the day before. This vicious cycle of negative, repetitive thought and self-talk holds us back. Believing things like “I’m not smart enough” or “I don’t have the right skills” is the self-talk that keeps most people stuck in jobs they hate, toxic relationships, and poor lifestyles. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies for replacing negative self-talk with positive beliefs.
Five ways to eliminate negative self-talk:
- Identify your feelings: Focus on the thoughts and feelings that arise when you hone in on certain aspects of your life. What comes to mind? How does your body feel? Then, change any “I am” thoughts to “I feel” thoughts. Recognize your experience without letting it define you.
- Accept your feelings: Only by fully leaning into your thoughts and allowing them to cycle can we learn to accept them and let them go. It’s okay to feel how you felt. Your feelings and experiences are never wrong. The key is not to let them control you.
- Replace old truths with new ones: The next time the thought of “I don’t have the right skills” occurs, challenge it. Make a list of all of your skills and professional qualities. Is that thought true? Can it be positively reframed? If you have a lot of computer skills, for example, reframe that thought to be “I’m highly skilled in computers and technology.”
- Repeat new truths: Once you’ve challenged old “truths” and formed new ones, repeat them. The best way to crowd out negative self-talk is by practicing positive self-talk.
- Engage new truths: Put your new truths into action. For example, if your new truth is that you’re highly skilled in technology, explore opportunities in technology, network with like-minded professionals, or begin leading more technology-based projects.
Examples of Success Through Manifestation
Constantly remind yourself of the person you are destined to become—it develops the mindset and actions that guide your life.lady gaga
Lady Gaga, Singer and Performer
For years before actually achieving fame and becoming a bestselling musical artist, Lady Gaga practiced daily affirmations. Through her daily mantras, she’d recite that she was already famous and would produce record hits. She believed that by deeply believing it and positioning her actions towards it, it would manifest. And it did.
Oprah Winfrey, American TV Host and Philanthropist
Oprah Winfrey has openly shared and credited her success to the law of attraction. Raised in poverty by her single teenage mother, Winfrey faced many hardships. After reading The Color Purple, Winfrey became inspired and started using positive thinking, prayer, and visualization to attract her first film role, which she got. Today, Oprah is a household name known by everyone, and her estimated net worth is $2.5 billion.
Josh Axe, CEO and Founder of Ancient Nutrition
When Dr. Josh Axe set out to create a health company in Nashville, Tennessee, he started by visualizing it. He sat down and thought to himself, “What do I want my company’s culture to look like?” With health at the forefront, he envisioned lots of plants in the office and having healthy snacks available. He saw employees getting exercise in throughout the day and feeling energized. He then worked with his team to start implementing this vision. Those who walk into Ancient Nutrition today will hear music and see an on-tap kombucha dispenser, healthy snacks, plants, and a vibrant culture that practices what they believe. He manifested the exact vision of his company.
Conor McGregor, UFC Champion
Conor McGregor visualizes his victories, and then they happen. In fact, in this interview, McGregor states, “I always visualize good things. I always visualize victory, success, abundance. I visualized it all, and it’s all happening.” McGregor credits his manifestations and the law of attraction to his abundant success in UFC fighting.
Daily Manifestation Breeds Real Results
If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.nikola tesla
Interest in this topic is likely because you know someone who manifested something remarkable. Perhaps you’ve heard of someone even discovering their ikigai—their very purpose in life—through manifestation technique. Knowing how to manifest something can feel like practicing mystical pseudoscience. However, if you integrate these steps into your daily routine and begin to change your mindset about what’s possible, change will happen.
Continue expanding your potential by reading How to Create a Vision for Your Life: A Must for Leaders and How to Create a Vision Board That Works.